Ask the Rules Guy: Raked Over

Ask the Rules Guy

Mr. Rules Guy: My tee shot landed in a fairway bunker. I picked up a rake and raked my footprints in the bunker as I walked toward my ball on the far side. I hit my shot to a foot and made birdie. My playing partners, though, said I deserved a penalty stroke for testing the bunker before I hit my shot. I thought I was just saving myself extra raking of the bunker by not having to walk back out the side after my shot. Who’s right?
— Sid Hasty, Powhatan, Va.

Until 2012 you would have received a two-stroke penalty. But the USGA added Exception 2 to Rule 13-4, which says that as long as the raking was done solely for the purpose of caring for the course and nothing was done to improve the area of your stance or swing, the lie of the ball or the line of play for the stroke you’re about to play, there is no penalty. So your "sandie" stands, and tell your playing partners to brush up on the Rules.